Even though I do have to admit that I’m not ready to let go of summer veggies and those fresh, raw dishes that shine with things plucked straight from the garden, I am ready for soup. Cold soups are delicious and refreshing, but they’re just not the same as a big bowl of steaming hot goodness.
So, our newly chilly weather has me back in the kitchen, brewing up old favorites and experimenting with new combinations. This makes me ear-to-ear-smilin’ happy, because one could say I’m rather fond of soup. Addicted, even.
Sweet potatoes and tart apples go so well together, especially in soups where their flavors have time to meld and marry. The smokiness of the pimenton (smoked paprika) and bacon (vegetarian substitutes work here, too) add warmth and depth and a certain fallness to the soup. A touch of lemon juice heightens, I think — in a good way — the tartness of the apple.
This was the first fall soup I made, and if this is any indication, soup season will be wonderful!
Smoky sweet potato and apple soup
Smoky flavors from bacon and pimenton add rich, savory notes to what otherwise would be a soup on the sweet the side.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 small-medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 strips of bacon (or vegetarian substitute), chopped (before cooking)
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small tart apple (I used a Northern Spy), peeled, cored and diced
2 teaspoons pimenton (smoked paprika)
3 1/2 cups stock, chicken or vegetable
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
thyme leaves and/or crunchy croutons, for garnish
1. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add the sweet potatoes dices and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened and the edges have turned golden.
2. Meanwhile, place a 4-5 qt. stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat until drops of water sizzle and evaporate on contact. Add the bacon pieces and cook to render its fat. Stir in the onions and celery and saute until the bacon reaches your preferred texture (chewy or crispy). Add the apple dices and the now-cooked sweet potatoes.*
3. Sprinkle the pimenton and a pinch of salt over the vegetables and stir well to coat. Pour in the stock, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Taste the soup for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to your liking. For a smooth result, run an immersion blender through the soup to break up the bigger chunks (the apples and potatoes will be soft and easily mashed). (Or, working in batches, use a regular blender. Return the soup to the pot after blending.)
5. Turn the heat to low and stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice.
6. Ladle into serving bowls and top each thyme leaves and/or croutons.
*Note: cooking the sweet potatoes and the bacon at the same time in separate vessels saves you about 10 minutes of overall cooking time. If your preference is to use fewer pans vs. saving time, start the sweet potatoes in the stock pot, add the bacon after the potatoes have softened a bit (about 7-8 minutes), and continue with the recipe as written. Note that the bacon might take a few minutes longer to crisp.